Deepcool Ice Matrix 400 Review

airman - 2010-12-08 12:48:13 in CPU Cooling
Category: CPU Cooling
Reviewed by: airman   
Reviewed on: December 22, 2010
Price: $40

Introduction:

I recently had the privilege of doing a review on the Deepcool Gamer Storm, which was a great looking heatsink that performed well, was easy to install, and isn't as costly as what you can find on the market. Rapidly making their way into the highly competitive computer cooling market, Deepcool is offering a wide range of cooling products from heatsinks, VGA and chipset coolers, to hard drive coolers. The signature but subtle black and blue colors of their fans give the origin of each of their products away with a quick glance from an experienced eye. The Deepcool Ice Matrix 400 is a compact tower cooler that takes advantage of four, 6mm heatpipes through an array of densely packed fins. Without giving too much away, it's time to move along to the closer look. In this review, I will provide an in-depth evaluation of the Deepcool Ice Matrix 400 from product presentation, un-boxing, the product itself, installation, and an intense testing.

Closer Look:

The Deepcool Ice Matrix 400 is packaged in a white cardboard box that has a window in the front that displays the heatsink, underneath the Ice Matrix 400 label. The blue Deepcool logo appears in the top left of the front of the box. Underneath the front window are five icons that describe features about the heatsink, such as its copper base, PWM control and that it is compatible with Intel and AMD. The right side of the package lists the AMD and Intel socket compatibility, which include anything Intel 775/1156/1366 and AMD AM3/AM2+/AM2. This is pretty much the standard for all heatsinks now. The rear of the package lists all of the typical specifications, such as dimensions, weight, and information about the fan including voltage, current, RPM, and noise levels. I will go into more detail about these later in the review. Finally, the left side of the box only has a picture of the Ice Matrix 400 and the text "Patented De-Vibration Fan".

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deepcool manages to package a lot of extra stuff into the box. There are three individual boxes inside that contain the fan, the back plates and fan connectors, and the mounting clamps. Deepcool also supplies a small tube of thermal paste along with two sets of fan clips. Included is a 4-pin splitter cable that allows for an additional fan to run off one connector, and there is also a 7v Molex adapter in case the user chooses to run a lower voltage to the fan(s). I noticed that the mounting system is identical to that of the Gamer Storm, which means there is no back plate for 1366. I will explain how this works later in the review.

 

 

Now that I've got everything out of the box, it's time to take a look at the heatsink in a little more detail.

Closer Look:

The Deepcool Ice Matrix 400 is a relatively small heatsink considering its thinness and unobtrusive footprint. Though it stands at about the same height as most other tower coolers, it is less than two inches thick. While the small footprint is convenient, it can also deteriorate the performance of the cooler under heavy loads. However, I'm not going to judge this "book" by its cover, so we'll wait and see how it performs! As the name implies, there are four heatpipes that loop through the base and into opposite sides of the densely packed fins. The fins are aluminum, and the base as well as the heatpipes are nickel plated copper. The nickel plating on the copper helps prevent corrosion and oxidation, while it will slightly decrease surface to air cooling since nickel has a lower conductivity constant than copper. On top of the base and underneath the fins is a smaller array of fins. These fins can passively (actively with enough airflow) help remove a few watts of heat from the base that don't travel into the heatpipes right away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The top of the Ice Matrix 400 is relatively plain and has the Deepcool logo stamped into the top fin. The four heatpipes protrude through the top fin by about a quarter of an inch. The two slits on each slim side of the cooler are for the clips that hold the fans into place. On the bottom of the Ice Matrix 400 is a plastic film that covers the base in order to protect its finish. After I removed this film, I discovered the finish on the base didn't really seem worth protecting. The machining marks are evident and it doesn't look polished at all. I wouldn't have as much of a problem with the poor quality since it is a lower-end heatsink, but Deepcool's Website says that the base is mirror polished. The base of the Ice Matrix 400 is clearly nowhere near that. The heatpipes themselves do look like they will make good contact with the interior of the base as well as the fins that are pressed onto them. Large contact areas with high pressure interfaces help conduction rates, and it looks like Deepcool accomplished that here.

 

 

 

The heatpipes are pressed into the fins under high pressure which secure the fins into place and leave little chance of them coming loose. Each short side of the fins have a small section that is folded down and locks into the fin beneath it. This helps with rigidity and assists in preventing the sides of the fins from bending down if the Ice Matrix 400 isn't handled carefully. The long sides of the fins have alternating notches cut into each side, which changes every 4 or 5 fins that add contrast to the overall look of the cooler. The majority of the middle fins are actually two separate pieces and are not connected in the middle. This break can be seen in the pictures below.

 

 

The fans supplied by Deepcool have been my favorite since I was first introduced to them. They have a rubberized coating that adds a cool, velvet like finish and feels nice to the touch. The rubber coating also assists in helping to damp vibrations caused by the fan that may propagate through the heatsink and into the case. This neglects the need to stick rubber strips between the fan and the heatsink, making assembly more simple. The fan is specified to run on 12v and pulls a maximum of 0.15A. It moves up to 66CFM at 1500RPM and noise levels between 17 and 27dBA. It uses a 4-pin PWM connector and can be plugged into a 4-pin Molex using the supplied adapter.

 

 

Installation of the Ice Matrix 400 is no different than that of the Gamer Storm. For the 1366 platform, there is no back-plate. Instead, there are four plastic nuts that are attached to the back side of the motherboard through the mounting holes with double sided tape. I wish that Deepcool had supplied a back plate for 1366 or developed a way to use a combo back-plate, because the plastic stick-on nuts become less usable after they have been removed, and they typically leave some adhesive on the motherboard. Nevertheless, these nuts are stuck to the back of the motherboard, and a standoff is screwed into each one. The appropriate base mount is placed onto the Ice Matrix 400 and secured into place with the two thumb screws. Depending on the socket, there are different holes used in securing the base mount to the heatsink, and different positions for the sprung screws. The thermal paste is applied and the heatsink is secured to the motherboard with a Phillips head screwdriver.

 

 

 

After getting the Ice Matrix 400 installed, it's now time to make one last in-depth look at its specifications, and then get the test rig fired up to see how it performs!

Specifications:

Overall Dimension
153 x 73.5 x 160mm
Net Weight
1030g
Fan Dimension
120 x 120 x 25mm
Rated Voltage
12VDC
Rated Current
0.13 +/- 10% A
Fan Speed
500~1500RPM
Max Air Flow
66.3CFM
Noise
17~27dBA
Supported Sockets
Intel: LGA1366/1156/775
AMD: AM3/AM2+/AM2

 

Features:

 

Information provided courtesy of Deepcool @ http://www.deepcool-us.com

Testing and Setup:

Testing of the heatsink will involve applying a load simulated by Prime95, using small FFTs in stock and overclocked scenarios. Both idle and load temperatures will be recorded. Load temperatures will be the maximum value displayed in RealTemp after running eight threads in Prime95 for one hour, and idle temperatures will be the minimum recorded value by RealTemp with no computer usage after one hour. The temperature values for each of the four cores will be averaged and displayed in the graphs below. The ambient temperature is held at a constant 22.5 °C throughout testing of the Ice Matrix 400, as well as the comparison heatsinks. All the data shown in the graphs below is in degrees Celsius. The included thermal paste from Deepcool will be used during testing, and thermal pastes as packaged from the other coolers were used with each heatsink, respectively. The fan on the Ice Matrix 400 will be run at full speed for these tests.

Testing Setup:

Comparison Heatsinks:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the price, which is said to launch at around $40, the Ice Matrix 400 is a very good cooler. It has a very simple design that works well and is not obtrusive to any motherboard component that I could tell. It does fall behind on the overclocked load test, but for its size this was expected. Stay tuned for the conclusion of this review where I will wrap up all of my thoughts about the Deepcool Ice Matrix 400.

Conclusion:

The Deepcool Ice Matrix 400 is a solid contender compared to other heatsinks in its price range. Under stock situations, it closes in on the Noctua NH-D14 and the recently tested Zalman CNPS9900, which are currently at the top of the market. However, when having to deal with even a mild overclock, it cannot compensate as easily for this extra heat output as the higher end heatsinks. Once the heat output from a processor begins to exceed the effective range of a heatsink, the temperature of the heatsink has to increase rapidly to compensate for this extra heat. This is due to its small size and less surface area compared to higher end heatsinks. The Ice Matrix 400 is, however, quiet, lightweight, and small.

Deepcool does market the base of their Ice Matrix 400 as being mirror polished, which I demonstrated is clearly not polished at all. This disappointed me a little bit, because seeing a high quality base shows extra care from a manufacturer by putting the extra step into the assembly process that improves the performance of the heatsink. Since Deepcool claims that it is polished to a "mirror finish", I'm going to have to take points off since it is not. For a lower end heatsink, I wouldn't expect base to be polished. However, the only reason I am mentioning this is because I expected to see a little more of a shine on the base, and less evident machining marks with Deepcool's claims. I also wished for a backplate for the 1366 platform to be implemented. The four plastic nuts that are stuck to the back of the motherboard are hard to remove and aren't really reusable. They also leave adhesive residue on the back of the motherboard, causing other backplates to be difficult to remove because they get stuck!

However, aside from the base not matching my idea of being "mirror polished", the Ice Matrix 400 will still be a good buy for someone who wants something quiet, small, and inexpensive. The Ice Matrix 400 certainly meets everything in that category. At full speed, I can't pick out the noise from the fan over the other fans in my case, which is a good thing. Deepcool should market this heatsink not only as a low cost, mid range performing solution, but also one that is quiet and not disturbing in any way!

 

Pros:

 

Cons: